Nepal faces acid test against Pakistan

The Men’s national cricket team of Nepal makes its Asia Cup One-Day International debut against co-host Pakistan in Multan, Pakistan on August 30th in the opener of the highly anticipated tournament.

It may be recalled that the competition held every two years was switched to hybrid model following India’s refusal to play in Pakistan.

As a result, the 50-over tournament organized by the Asian Cricket Council is being co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Of the total 13 matches, four will be held in Pakistan and nine in Sri Lanka.

The sixteenth edition championship features six teams India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal.

Nepal has been handed a very tough group. They are in Group A alongside India and Pakistan, while defending champions Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh feature in Group B.

The best two teams from each group advance to the Super Four round. The final is slated for September 17th in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Since the start of Asia Cup in 1984, India has been the most successful team winning seven times.

A close second is Sri Lanka with six titles ,while Pakistan has won 2 times. The competition has been mostly played in ODI format while in 2016 and 2022 in T20 format.

This is a big opportunity for the youthful Nepali outfit to cross swords with two titans of world cricket.

No doubt, they face a monumental challenge against the seasoned and experienced opponents.

To say that they stand very little chance would not be an understatement, specially based on the opposition’s world rankings, history, records and strengths.

For the first time in the cricket history of Nepal, they face the national teams of India and Pakistan at full strength in a tournament of Asia Cup stature.

Team Nepal should not get distracted, panic and worry too much about the opponents stature and conceivable outcome.

Though sports is unpredictable and full of uncertainties, in my opinion defeat for Nepal is a foregone conclusion.

I say this largely because of the team’s glaring weaknesses in both batting and bowling, coupled with inconsistency, inexperience, lackluster performance in the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe and the high quality opponents they are up against.

Foremost Nepal’s qualification to the Asia Cup after dime-a-dozen tries in itself was a big achievement and a very important breakthrough.

Given the context, every member of the team must cherish and relish this rare opportunity and make the most of it.

The competition has provided these young talents one of the biggest platforms in their career to date to showcase their skills.

They could not have asked for a bigger international platform. Now they are on the verge of playing against not only formidable but world class opponents who have been dominating international cricket.

More than the results, what matters most for Team Nepal is gaining valuable experience and learning the finer aspects of batting, bowling and fielding.

They are one hundred percent underdogs against the superpowers of cricket and have nothing to lose in the true sense.

In my analysis, they are in a win-win position. Keeping that in mind they must approach both matches with utmost focus, confidence, self-belief, motivation, determination and positive match temperament.

They have a chance to impress and dazzle on the game’s big stage. They must grasp the opportunity and do whatever it takes to do the very best they can with it to leave a mark.

For that Team Nepal must rise to the occasion and consistently put together an extraordinary performance.